Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Five Common Objections Against the Christian Religion


By Fr. Demetrios Bathrellos

In the following text we will briefly comment on five common objections against the Christian religion. According to the first, no religion is credible because there is no scientific evidence for the existence of God. The objection has two main weaknesses. First, we believe in many things without having or seeking scientific evidence for them. Knowing that our parents love us, or that we have had a particular experience in the past, or that a sum of words is a poetic masterpiece is not scientifically provable - but that does not mean they are not true. Second, God is not an object of the world that we can study through science, but He is its Creator. Christianity does not worship "gods" like those of ancient Greek paganism, the non-existence of which could be ascertained by a visit to Olympus. Science can prove neither the existence nor the non-existence of God.

A second objection claims that religion is unnecessary, if not useless. This objection is linked to the secularization process. In the seventeenth century, with the development of science, knowledge was secularized. In the eighteenth century, with the French and American Revolutions that separated the Church from the State, either in a hostile way (France) or in a friendly way (America), politics was secularized. Culture was secularized in the nineteenth century. Finally, in the twentieth century, especially from 1960 onwards, ethics was secularized. Therefore, modern man can be educated, entertained, politicize, and live without special reference to religion. This objection, however, does not take into account our fundamental existential and metaphysical questions. Why is there something instead of nothing? Why am I here? What is the purpose of my existence? What will happen when I die? Without answering these questions, life itself has no meaning. Neither science, nor art, nor politics, nor a secular ethic can answer these questions. Religion deals with them and for this reason, among other things, at all times it has a central place in people's lives.

According to a third objection, "religion is the opium of the people." The claim was made by Karl Marx and repeated in a different form by Freud and so many others, to declare that religion is but a human invention of those who seek solace for the problems and impasses of life. This objection suffers from two obvious weaknesses. First, just because we want or imagine something does not mean it does not exist. A driver who has minimal gasoline wants and hopes to see a gas station soon, but this does not mean that the gas station does not exist. Our desires and reality are issues of a different order. Second, the same objection can be used in favor of religion, because just as well one can argue that atheism is a convenient invention of those who want to be the absolute masters of their lives, to determine good and evil themselves, and not to be accountable to anyone for their choices and actions.

The fourth objection alleges the wickedness of Christians. But even if we accepted that this is true (ignoring, of course, that Christianity has by far had the most beneficial effect on human history), would it be an argument against Christianity? To answer the question, let us use the example of two great modern Republics, the British and the American. Their citizens are burdened with great sins: slave trade, colonialism, atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, destruction of the natural environment and so much more. But are these arguments against Democracy? Can they undo any of the achievements of these Republics? Do they mean that the ideals of equality and freedom are perforated? Rather, they refer to the inability of people to rise to the heights of their ideals and not necessarily to the worthlessness of those ideals. Something similar sometimes happens with Christians.

Fifth and final objection: religions are responsible for wars. Here we are dealing with a huge factual error. Religions are responsible for less than 10% of the wars in human history. War, in fact, is contrary to the nature of Christianity in particular, which worships the crucified King of peace. On the contrary, if we recall the secular, totalitarian, anti-Christian ideologies of the twentieth century, we will realize that they are responsible for the death of incomparably more victims than they can attribute to Christianity during the twenty centuries of its history.

In short, while the above objections are constantly repeated as being supposedly convincing and reasonable, their probative power is, in fact, non-existent.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.